The Honor 10 Lite carries a dual-camera setup on its back - the main camera is 13MP and has a wide f/1.8 aperture and phase detection autofocus. The secondary 2MP sensor is only used for depth sensing when scene depth information is required such as when shooting portraits with artificially defocused backgrounds.
The front camera that sits on the notch is 24MP with a narrower f/2.0 opening.
Of course, no one expects the Honor 10 Lite to be the best photography performer considering the price range but some basic camera capabilities should be in order. We hope to see it do just as well as the recently reviewed Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite as both phones fall into the same category. Let's dig into the daylight, indoor and night samples right after a brief review of the camera software.
The default camera app is pretty easy to handle. In the default camera mode, you will find the AI and Moving Picture toggles as well as the so-called HiTouch feature that uses machine learning to recognize objects, although we found it to be a hit and miss. The settings icon in the upper right corner leads you to more advanced options like resolution, GPS tag toggle, capture smiles or the option to open up the camera by double pressing the volume down button.
Swiping to left or right will switch between the camera modes - video, portrait, night and aperture. Each mode is self-explanatory and in the "More" section, you will find AR lens, time-lapse, panorama, HDR, stickers, pro, light painting, and filter. Those are self-explanatory as well.
Interestingly, the Auto HDR option was nowhere to be found in the default camera app but then again, not all phones in this price range use the HDR stacking with great success. Actually, quite the opposite. Still, you have the manual option of turning it on so you can toggle it on and off when you feel the need.
Just a quick tip, if you plan on using the bokeh/portrait effect on an object, try using the "Aperture mode" - you might find it produces better results than the standard Portrait mode.
In selfie mode, the camera app offers similar features as the main camera mode - there's the portrait mode, video recording and AI function.
Overall, the Honor 10 Lite takes okay photos with pleasant colors.
The photos have a lot of noise even in daylight. The noise-suppression seems to be working overtime and we still get grainy shots.
The dynamic range is also something that could have used some improving judging by the clipped highlights and HDR does only half of its job - it does open up the shadows but overexposes the highlights. However, the detail was good while the HDR introduced a little bit more sharpening without going over board.
The AI didn't do much for us - it saturated some of the colors and we can notice some oversharpening here and there. The camera app prompted us with a message when it recognized some of the subjects like a pet or a flower but this didn't change any of the shooting settings noticeably.
Our initial impressions from the Portrait mode were quite positive - the level of resolved detail was impressive, colors were punchy and the edge detection was generally fine.
What we didn't expect, however, is the background defocusing to fail at random spots. You can notice the "unnatural" de-focus in the first photo.
Seflies were underwhelming as well - since there's no autofocus, it's hard to find the right focus distance, there's not enough sharpness for a 24MP camera, it lacks good dynamic range and colors are a bit washed out.
The AI mode helps with the colors to some extent.
The selfie portrait mode did a nice job with the edge detection but it produced some fairly inconsistent results.
Here are a couple of indoor shots - the AI mode produces slightly higher level of detail. We also apreciate the Aperture mode for the nice bokeh effect.
As expected, the general graininess of the photos, which we observe in the daylight photos, only got more prominent in low-light situations and a lot of the detail gets lost to noise suppression. And since there's no OIS, the occasional camera shake makes things even worse.
When the AI is turned on, the camera app prompts you with a message that you should keep your hands still because the algorithm is working on sharpening the photo. In reality, there's little to no difference between the AI photos and the normal ones.
However, the Night mode produces largely different results. It seems that the software tends to oversharpen things without taking care of the noise and the latter becomes even more visible even though this means less noise suppression and less smudginess. We guess that if you are not into pixel peeping, you wouldn't mind the extra noise, but you would definitely appreciate the clearer photos and better dynamic range the Night mode shots offer.
Here's how it stacks against the competition.
Surprisingly, the handset doesn't offer any kind of 4K video recording and defaults at 1080@30fps. However, there's optional 1080@60fps recording but neither mode offers any kind of video stabilization. As a result, videos appear quite shaky if you shoot handheld. But you do have the option to choose between H.264 and H.265 encoding, which is nice.
We've noticed that the issue with dynamic range is prominent in the videos as well - highlights are too bright while dark areas appear darker than they should. Detail is okay though, at least in 30fps mode. If you crank it up to 60fps, a lot of detail will be lost.
There was also an issue with the autofocus system - it failed to maintain focus on a subject and the issue becomes progressively more prominent as the light gets low.
Here are some screenshots from our lab video samples compared to other models.